Andrew and I love road trips. We love road trips because some of our best memories together and best conversations have happened during road trips. I don’t quite know what it is but we always know a car ride is a great time for us to connect. I’ll never forget our first road trip to Andrew’s home, 5 ½ hours north, a little over a month after we met right after fall semester finals were finished. Or the time we were on a road trip through Texas and had to drive up the coast from Corpus Christi to Galveston and never even turned the radio on.
Nowadays, a road trip or just going for a drive allows a little bit of peace and quiet while our boy’s nap or watch a movie and usually involves a stop at Dunn Bros.
The road trip to and from my parents a few weeks ago was another great conversation.
Andrew and I got on the subject again about the loss of Max. In a more matter-of-fact manner we discussed how upon receiving Max’s fatal diagnosis we were extremely concerned about the future of us. Remembering how PPD and PTSD almost tore our family apart after the birth of Jack, we both agreed we had no idea how we would weather this storm at first. Besides the fear of grief and loss was a fear of loss on an even deeper level—our family.
We began to just reflect a bit on how we got here, almost 5 months later, still standing and still standing strong. He began to paint such a great picture in my head about our family and what that looks like I thought it was an awesome analogy to tell you about.
Andrew explained that families in general all start with a foundation. It can be built on many different things-- good or bad. A foundation is a foundation. Foundations that are well built with love, compassion, and receive ongoing care are strong. We know that and fight to keep our marriage and foundation strong every day.
After a foundation is laid comes the bricks. The bricks are all the tangible things in our lives that build a solid shelter around us. Things like our family, our jobs, our home, are all part of the bricks we use to feel safe, strong and construct more on top of our foundation.
The mortar is literally what keeps the bricks together and sturdy from crumbling on top of us. The mortar of our shelter is the intangible things in our lives. It is the friendships we have, the faith we rely on, date nights, family memories, and everything that makes us realize how beautiful life here is.
So why was this so enlightening and helpful?
Andrew and I agreed that the earthquake of Max’s diagnosis hit our shelter hard. It shook our foundation to the core; it cracked a few bricks, and broke up some of that mortar that we had. We still feel the aftershocks and ripple effects. There is still the apprehension and worry to go out into the world again, wondering if another earthquake with hit us hard enough to really make us crumble.
Even though we live with the concern that our shelter cannot take much more, we have chosen to rebuild and repair the damage and that has helped us the most. Just simply making the choice to wake up each day and get out of bed we are continuing to rebuild and repair. We have continued to create family memories, went on a date night or two, and honored our son, Max who we cannot take care of here. We created even more mortar in our lives, to pack into more bricks,that will allow us to build higher on an even stronger foundation than before.
The cracks in our bricks will never be forgotten though, no matter how much mortar we pack into them. There is still evidence that something indeed tragic happened. But we wouldn't want it all to look neat and pretty anymore because that wouldn't be a true reflection of our lives at any point. Our patch work tells a much more humble and thankful story now.